Look guys, I’m not handy. I’m pretty hopeless about a lot of homeowner stuff and household maintenance things. Back at our old house in New Jersey I would just call my dad over when something was broken and I didn’t really pay much attention to how he fixed it. I should have but I didn’t and now we’re regularly leaning on our trusted general contractors and handymen for things big and small and in between- because it’s always freakin’ something, I swear! This week’s frustration was our rotoplas… it sprung a little leak, ugh! We patched it from the outside and took the incident as a not-so-gentle reminder to service it on the inside; something we’ve neglected to do for probably 3 years.
What is a Rotoplas and why do you have it?
So maybe you are like me (pre-Belize-move) and are asking, “what the heck is Rotoplas and why do you need it?” Well most houses here, have a Rotoplas of some size. It is a water tank. Some houses have huge Rotoplas or multiple tanks with elaborate filters and rain catchment rigs. Some houses just have small ones to hold a bit of reserve water to use in emergencies.
Even though we are piped in to the municipal water here in Placencia, we still have a large auxiliary tank we keep full for when service is interrupted or pressure is low. We keep a large reserve and secondary pump so that our guesthouse always has water and decent pressure regardless of what’s happening with the municipal service to the village.
The public water in Placencia is very high quality and perfectly safe to drink, home owners just want to keep reserves on hand because the delivery of the water is spotty. Click here to read more about Belize Water Service and their plans for the peninsula.
So our big-a$$ Rotoplas is just kept full of the public water from BWS, not rain water, and is used to supply all the taps in the house.
How often are you meant to clean it?
I don’t know about rain water systems but for a spare potable water reserve like mine, you are meant to clean them annually. On the inside! We’ve had this house for 5 years and it was done once (not by me) ages ago but it’s probably been over 3 years since we had this sucker serviced. We drink the water every day and have not noticed any bad taste or cloudiness, but still, this chore was well past due to be done. My internet research says to clean the tanks every 12 months but I think you could stretch it a bit further since the quality of water (from BWS) is so high and has minimal TDS, if you went longer I doubt there would be much difference.
How do you clean the Rotoplas?
Sh!!!!!!!t, this was a chore! Christ on a cracker this was hard work! Okay, here’s what I did after we used as much water from the tank that we could. I showered myself, donned a clean bathing suit I didn’t care about ruining, and wrapped my hair up in a turban. You have to get in a tank this size so you want to be really clean and leave nothing behind inside when you finish.
There was an inch or two of water left inside the tank and sediment was clearly visible at the bottom. I scrubbed down the walls once with a bit of diluted bleach water then scooped out buckets of the dirty water- handing them up over my head and out through the top of the tank to Phil who was on a ladder outside the tank. He carried the buckets out of the shed and dumped them in the yard. This took ages! My arms were aching and I was sweating my a$$ off in that airless hellhole.
Once you have the tank completely cleared out (I used clean towels to wipe up any remaining dirt and moisture) you will give the interior walls a second scrub down with bleach water. We worked in sections, swapping out used dirty buckets for fresh clean ones. I scrub brushed with bleach then freshwater rag-wiped the area clean. Swapped buckets and repeated the process. IT WAS TORTUROUS and it took hours!
Tips and Tricks
I was shattered from this. Literally, I thought I might have had covid the next day, I even went for a test! I was exhausted and sore, had a headache and sore throat. Live and learn- it’s rough stuff working in a hot confined space- make sure you come up for fresh air often.
Have all your materials ready and on hand ahead of time to minimize the length of time you spend inside the tank. Have more buckets than you think you need, have more clean towels and rags. Have a cold beverage handy.
You need something to stand on- if you’re short like me, the top of the tank is higher than your head. Have a small stool or bucket inside with you so you can pop up for fresh air like a prairie dog. To get in and out of the tank, you’ll want that stool or bucket on a string so you can use it to get yourself out then you can pull it up after you. You really want to minimize the time you spend hanging/struggling on the opening because you don’t want to crack the tank or break the bobber thing. I was neither dainty nor graceful getting in and out of this behemoth but with Phil’s assistance and the bucket-on-a-string trick, we managed.
Don’t over do it on the bleach, you’ll only be hurting yourself (eyes, nose, throat, lungs will thank you for not going big on the bleach). At the end, if you’re concerned you left behind any germs you can always give the walls and floor of the tank a spray down with SD-6. This is a sanitizer/ disinfectant from EcoKlean and is completely odor-less, food safe, mineral free, you name it. I discovered this product during the pandemic and use it on soft surfaces in our apartments that aren’t easily cleaned between guests like sofas and curtains. It’s color safe too. You can even spray it in your cutlery drawer to disinfect everything, it will dry spotless. It’s kinda amazing.
Do you have a Rotoplas? Have you cleaned it? Any other good tips or tricks I should know about? Tell us in the comments!